Spinal injuries may conjure images of immediate paralysis, but not every injury happens that way. Sometimes, damage to the spine does not happen right away or show symptoms immediately.
The Mayo Clinic explains there are times when an injury to the spine is not noticeable until hours or even days after an accident. The recommendation is to assume anyone with a head or neck injury also has spinal injuries until an assessment proves otherwise. There are a couple of reasons why you could have an injury and not know it.
Some spinal injuries occur due to trauma around the area aggravated by swelling. Swelling does not always happen right away. It is often gradual. As time goes by, you may start to experience symptoms once swelling advances and starts to put pressure on the spinal cord.
Initially, a spinal injury may not be too bad, but movement could lead to additional injury. For example, if a bone in the spine suffers a fracture but does not completely break, you could get treatment and avoid spinal cord damage. However, if you are not aware of the fracture and you move around too much, you could advance that to a break that does damage the cord. It is also possible that swelling could also aggravate the issue and lead to a full break and more damage in this type of situation.
Because you may not know you have a severe spine injury, you should always seek medical care if you suffer any type of trauma to your head or neck. This can ensure you receive assessment and treatment before your injury progresses.